Life Advice



Neighbor Wants To Support Sick Woman

Harriette Cole on

DEAR HARRIETTE: I learned that my neighbor is suffering from a terminal disease. She is very private. I was told by another neighbor who is close to her. I want to be able to support her during this tough time, but I'm not sure what to do since she hasn't told me of her condition directly. In the past we have spoken, but I have not visited her or anything. How can I be of help without being invasive? -- Sick Neighbor

DEAR SICK NEIGHBOR: If you have her phone number, call your neighbor and say you wanted to check in. Let her know that you noticed during quarantine that you haven't seen her much and wanted to see how she is doing. Make some food that you can share, such as a casserole, a loaf of bread or a dessert. Don't make it a big deal. Just tell her you would like to share and ask if you can drop it off. That lets her know you aren't trying to come in to visit unless she invites you. Check in on her periodically, letting her know you are thinking about her.

Also, talk to the neighbor who revealed her secret, and ask if there's anything you can do anonymously to help. If that neighbor is in the sick woman's inner circle, she may be able to point you to ways that you can provide support in this challenging moment.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hired a lovely woman to work with me, and it turns out that she is not good at the tasks I hired her to perform. This is tough for me because I like her a lot. I want to keep her on my team, but I can't afford it. How can I let her go and also let her know how much I care about her? I have found her another job if she is willing to take it, but I fear that her feelings will be deeply hurt when she learns that I can't have her on my payroll anymore. -- Transition

DEAR TRANSITION: Tell this employee exactly what you just told me. Point out what is exceptional about her, in your eyes, and what doesn't work for your company. Tell her how hard it has been for you to come to the conclusion that she is not right for the role you hired her to fulfill. Add that because you care for her and trust her other abilities, you have found another opportunity for her, should she be interested. Set her up for an interview and make it clear that it is her decision to accept the job or not. That is a generous and thoughtful way to let her go.


Give her time to process her feelings. Offer to talk through everything with her. Know that this may be hard for her to handle at first. With your support, she should be able to see the light and recognize that you did go the extra mile for her.


(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Copyright 2022, Harriette Cole



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